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By ESPN Staff

Giggs: Refs punishing Ron for his reputation

Ryan Giggs has backed Sir Alex Ferguson's claim that Cristiano Ronaldo is still paying for his reputation as a diver. Ronaldo attracted plenty of criticism during the early days of his Manchester United career by going to ground far too easily under minimal contact. Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate still felt it necessary to brand the Portugal winger 'a cheat' during one stormy meeting with the Red Devils at the Riverside last term when Ronaldo won his side a controversial penalty by falling over Mark Schwarzer. Ferguson is convinced such rows were going through the mind of referee Rob Styles last night when he inexplicably booked Ronaldo for diving in the Fulham box at Old Trafford despite the fact TV replays showed Antti Niemi getting nowhere near the ball as he slid out to confront the Portugal star. And Giggs, while recognising Ronaldo's blinding speed makes it difficult for a referee to make a split second decision, also believes that was the case. 'I think he is paying for his reputation,' said the veteran Welshman. 'He did have a reputation (for diving) when he first came over here but that has gone now. 'It is hard for the referee. Everything happens quickly, Ronny is running so fast and he has to make a split second decision. 'Maybe he didn't give it because there was no contact. But Ronny was trying to avoid the goalkeeper and the keeper's arms followed his legs. In my view that is not simulation. 'Everyone thinks it is a penalty and if the referee looks back on it he will maybe feel he has made a mistake.' It is not the first time Styles has found himself at the centre of a penalty storm. At Anfield earlier this season, he awarded Chelsea one of the softest spot-kicks imaginable when Florent Malouda fell down after jumping between Jamie Carragher and Steve Finnan. Styles rang Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez to apologise afterwards, although it did not stop him briefly getting dropped from the Premier League list. Referees' supremo Keith Hackett must now decide whether to take similar action. However, Ronaldo has shown an admirable reluctance to condemn Styles too excessively despite the obvious slur on his character. 'Getting the yellow card is frustrating but football is like that sometimes,' he said. 'The referees make mistakes, as do the players sometimes. He made his decision, I am not of the same opinion.'